How To Be A Facebook Schizo

Do you have both personal friends and work colleagues in your facebook friends list? Ever wish you could post to them separately, without having to create a second facebook account? Here’s my simple guide for maintaining your dual personality by using facebook’s Friend Lists and Custom Privacy Settings.

My facebook friends are split about 50/50 between personal friends and people I work with. Nothing wrong with that and I’m sure some of you are in a similar position. As social media makes inroads into the workplace however, more of us are starting to use sites like facebook for work-related communications, but we don’t necessarily want Auntie Joan to have to read about our latest quarterly earnings or our new marketing strategy. Likewise, we probably don’t want to air all our personal online laundry in the office.

So, the logical thing to do is to find a way to selectively control who sees your facebook stuff, on a post-by-post basis. But how?

This is pretty simple to do once you get familiar with two facebook features: Friends Lists, and Custom Privacy Settings. Here’s how I’ve done it and you can adapt this to your own needs.

Part one: set up your Friends Lists

  • from your facebook home page click Friends on the left menu and then click Create List
  • enter a name for your list (e.g. Work), and then select all your work friends as members of the list.
  • once that’s done, repeat the process by adding your personal friends to your second list (e.g. Personal)
  • you now have two Friend Lists, with your work colleagues in one and your personal friends in the other.

From now on, nothing will change by default. Your posts will still be visible by everyone and you will see everyone who’s online in your chat list.

Part two: start customising

  • Chat: when you click on the Chat tab your online friends will now automatically be grouped into their lists, and you’ll see a little green slider button alongside each list name. Just click the slider alongside Work and you’ll appear offline to all work colleagues while showing as online to your friends.
  • Posts and Status Updates: Each time you post something new you now have the option of controlling who sees it.
  • after you enter your post but before clicking Share, click the little padlock to the left of the Share button and select “Customize”
  • To share the post with Work only, click the selection box under “Make this visible to…”
  • select “Specific People”, and then type “Work” into the box.
  • when you save, your post will be seen only by work colleagues.
  • To share a post with friends only, you can either repeat the above process, but enter “Personal” instead, or…
  • …you can click the box under “Hide this from…” and type “Work” in there.
  • Your post will then only be seen by personal friends.

Now you can vent your spleen with appropriate audiences only. If you’re a Farmville addict you could even set up a list containing all your Farmville buddies, then please all go and live on a remote island somewhere with it’s own internet so that I don’t have to read about all your dumb imaginary animals.


About Chris Neal

Personal Technology Consultant. Tailored services and advice for people who want more from their technology.
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